Central Texas at times may experience severe weather, including tornadoes. It is important for students, employees and visitors to be familiar with emergency preparedness guidance in case a Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning are issued.
From the National Weather Service (NWS):
What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning issued by the National Weather Service?
Tornado WATCH: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Tornado WARNING: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.
In the Event of A Tornado Warning
There are multiple ways the City of Waco, McLennan County and Baylor University alert their respective communities in case of a tornado:
- Tornado Sirens: There is a network of sirens that are operated by the City of Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management. Baylor University maintains its own outdoor notification system. The sirens are activated during a tornado warning if a tornado is imminent.
- NOTE REGARDING MONTHLY TESTS: Sirens operated by City of Waco-McLennan County are tested monthly on the first Friday of each month at 10 a.m. Baylor University also conducts tests of its sirens at the same date and time (March to July) in coordination with local emergency management partners.
- Baylor Alert: Learn more information on the university's emergency notification system.
- Local media, weather radios, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)
- Seek shelter immediately on a ground floor, in an interior room.
- Do not use elevators
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls
- Avoid any wide-span roof areas such as auditorium, gymnasiums, cafeterias and large hallways
- Residence Hall Directors and available staff will gather all residents to the Severe Weather Assembly Areas (identified on Building Emergency Plan maps throughout the facility)
- Residents should bring blankets for protection from debris
- Remain in the Severe Weather Assembly Areas until the tornado passes, and an All Clear is issued via Baylor Alert.
- Seek indoor shelter, if possible
- Parked motor vehicles are unsafe
- If indoor shelter is not available and there is not time for escape, lie flat in a ditch or low spot
- If you are on a flat ground and are caught in the path of a tornado, always move at right angles to its path
Individuals with mobility/impairments or physical disabilities
Supervisory personnel and course instructors are responsible for identifying and escorting individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities located in their offices/facilities or classrooms to safety in the event of a tornado warning.
The elevators may be used to transport individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities and their escorts to a safer location. Visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals may be escorted down the stairs, but may require assistance in moving in crowded staircases and in finding a safer location.
In the event of a power failure, individuals who are unable to use the stairs and their escorts should move to an interior location without windows and call the Baylor University Police Department (254-710-2222) who will notify the appropriate emergency personnel with the location.